Storms Strengthen Roots
A few weeks ago, when I was mindlessly surfing the internet just to pass some time, I ran across a very insightful article that seemed to shed light on the necessary uncomfortableness of our journey of growth.
A great experiment in the desert called the “biodome” created a living environment for human, plant, and animal life. A huge glass dome was constructed to house an artificial, controlled environment with purified air and water, healthy soil, and filtered light. The intent was to provide perfect growing conditions for trees, fruits and vegetables, as well as humans.
People lived in the biodome for many months at a time, and everything seemed to do well, with one exception. When the trees grew to a certain height, they would topple over. It baffled scientists, until they realized they forgot to include the natural element of wind. Trees need wind to blow against them in order for their root systems to grow sufficiently deep and strong enough to support the tree as it grows taller.
Who among us doesn’t long for a perfect growing environment for ourselves, with no disruptions from outside influences? We strive to avoid the times of conflict and tension, when life’s daily challenges push against us. When they do, the normal tendency is to curse them or run from them. If trees could talk, would we hear them curse the wind each time they encountered a storm?
We can learn a great deal from nature’s wisdom at work if we are open to the lesson. Watch how a tree bends and sways gracefully when the wind blows against it. It does not stand rigid, resisting the flow of energy. It does not push back. The tree accepts the strong wind as a blessing that helps it grow. Such experiences develop our character and deepen our spiritual roots. When we grow deep, we too, stand tall.
In my counseling office here in Louisville, there are two doors on opposite sides of the room – one that leads out into the hallway, and one that leads into a small storage room. I’d guess that the distance from one door to the other is maybe twelve feet.
Metaphorically picture with me that the storage room door represents the things in our lives that are behind us – our past hurts and failures, performance and approval, shame and brokenness. The door to the hallway represents God’s plans for us – “plans for good and not for disaster, to give us a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).
Despite what might seem to be the obvious, best choice, the familiarity and security of what’s in the storage room – the life we’ve always known – tends to magnetically draw us back in that direction.
We Must Make a Choice
Every follower of Jesus – albeit every human being – has a pivotal decision to make. We stand individually in a room called life, with the opportunity to choose between two doors. One is cluttered with a life of hurt, loss, and brokenness; the other is filled with a new life in Christ. One is familiar but unfulfilling; the other is hope-filled but unknown.
Many of us hold tightly to the door that connects us to our past, while Jesus stands in the door of our future, inviting us to trust Him and commit to follow Him. Unfortunately, our arms won’t reach far enough for us to hold onto both doors at the same time. We fear letting go of one before we can confidently grab hold of the other. As humans, we seem to have difficulty with this space in the middle where it feels like we’re not holding on to anything.
Our journey toward wholeness demands that we let go of the one before we can step into the other. And the space where we’re not holding on to either door we call “the desperate in-between” – that space between brokenness and wholeness.